I’ve traveled on my own a few times now so I thought I’d put together a post with some tips that worked for me.
Even though I’ve only traveled on my own inside of Canada, I think all of the information I’ve shared below also works when traveling internationally. I think everyone should go somewhere on their own at least once – it’s such a cool experience to travel alone.
Do your research before you leave.
Educate yourself about the countries and cities that you’ll be traveling to. Get a feel for the culture, areas to avoid, and what you’ll want to do while you’re there. Once you have a general idea about that, you’ll be able to plan out your trip better.
When I traveled to Vancouver I knew that I wanted to check out Chinatown and avoid the downtown east side. I got a better idea of things that I wanted to do when I was there instead of wasting time while I was actually on the trip figuring it out.
I ended up reading about small group boat tours and signing up for one a few weeks ahead of my trip on a whim. It turns out that it was one of my favorite memories that I have from the trip. I got to see bald eagles and seals and I loved being out on the water.
Take advantage of being alone.
Are you all about doing the cultural things in the place that you’ll be visiting? Then check out all the art galleries, museums, and churches. Are you more of a shopper? Then head out to the market, shopping district, or mall. All about doing the touristy stuff? Then go see the landmarks and take photos of them to post on social media.
Since you don’t have anyone else with you, take advantage of being able to do whatever you want. Don’t waste time in a museum or a concert if that’s not your thing. This is your chance to make your own schedule.
Do things when you want. It can be frustrating sometimes when you’re traveling with an early riser or night owl and you prefer the opposite schedule. But when you’re on your own you don’t have to take anyone else into consideration.
I loved going to restaurants on my own because I typically got a table really quickly, even when it was busy. I didn’t have to wait for a large table to open up like if I was with a larger group of people. I could sit at a table for two, no problem.
Ask lots of questions
I think most big cities are walkable and have transit systems that can get you to where you want to go, but if you’re in doubt, ask! A street that might look pedestrian friendly might not have any sidewalks. Maybe transit ends early on Sundays. The front desk at your hotel should be able to help you out.
I was leaving super early for a tour one morning (think 6 am) and I wasn’t sure where to find breakfast that early. A quick conversation with someone at the front desk helped me out with that. They pointed me in the direction of a super cute cafe that I ended up going to again later on in the trip because I liked it so much.
I ate at the best little Vietnamese restaurant just a few blocks away from my hotel based on a recommendation from a barista at Starbucks. I asked if she knew any good restaurants nearby and her recommendation was spot on.
I went on an evening walking tour and it ended in a different spot than it started. I was unfamiliar with the neighborhood. At the end of the tour I asked the person giving the tour if there were any areas/streets that I should avoid walking back to my hotel and he was really helpful.
Connect with other people
When I was planning my trip to Vancouver I knew that I wanted to go to Victoria for a day. It requires a ferry ride, and both ferry terminals were just outside of Vancouver which made it difficult to get there without a car. There was transit, but it seemed like the times didn’t line up very well.
I ended up booking a day trip with a tour company that picked me up right outside of my hotel and took me all the way to Victoria. We visited the Butchart Gardens in the morning and I was able to wander around Downtown Victoria in the afternoon.
It was the perfect combination of being with other people to get to and from Victoria, but while I was actually in Victoria at the gardens and downtown I could be on my own and do what I wanted.
Don’t look like a tourist
This goes for when you’re traveling with other people too and might seem kind of obvious, but don’t look like you’re from out of town. Don’t unfold a huge map while standing on the street corner. Pull up google maps on your phone instead. Don’t wave around tons of cash out in public. I guarantee you’ll make yourself an easy target for pickpockets. It happens so quickly.
Have you traveled on your own before? Where did you go? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.